10 Fun Things to Do with NJ Kids on Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve often takes a backseat to the 25th, but personally, I prefer the laid back day-before. You don’t have to worry about a big meal (unless you really want to), plus most people don’t have to work and kids start Christmas break. Plus plus, it’s Santa’s big night! Christmas Eve is the perfect time to remember old traditions or to start new ones with your family. Here’s a list of 10 fun things to do with your kids from tracking Santa to baking cookies to holiday crafts and more!
Bake Cookies: I have many fond memories of baking Christmas cookies with my mom. Spritz cookies were a staple in our house. All you need is a cookie press (I recently ordered this one) and grab some sprinkles, colored sugars, red hots and any other decorations you like. Cookie presses make cute little cookies very easily. Plus the Spritz recipe is so easy to make (I use this one) and so much fun to decorate! My two-year-old loved sprinkling the little Christmas trees and wreathes with sprinkles (almost as much as he loved eating the sprinkles).
Be Charitable: There are so many ways to give back at this time of year, especially in some areas of NJ that were hit so hard by Hurricane Sandy. The many options can be overwhelming, but consider something like adopting a family in need, donating a meal or simply giving to a local toy drive. Jersey Shore Hurricane News is a Facebook page that is wildly helpful when it comes to finding out where to go or what to do, in terms of volunteering, donating, etc. They have a very long and informative list here with some really great programs listed. It’s very long, but there is holiday information towards the end of the document. Another place that has organized Secret Santas for devastated families in NJ and holiday meals is A Place at the Table. Involving your children in your charitable work can be such a rewarding experience for both of you.
Track Santa: Norad will help you track Santa on Christmas Eve! Simply go to their web site on December 24th and get the kids involved with the tracking. You can also download apps for your iPad, PC or Android phone here. Kids love the excitement of seeing where in the world Santa is flying over to deliver presents.
Send a Personalized Message from Santa: Portable North Pole gives you the opportunity to send a special personalized message from Santa right to your child. You can choose to a “nice”, “naughty/nice” or “naughty” child. (You can also send to a naughty or nice adult). Plus, many other options…let the fun begin!
Crafts: A little craft-making can go a long way, as far as keeping your kids happy and busy. Target sells craft kits for various holidays. This year I purchased Christmas tree and snowman kits. The trees and snowmen are made of foam and come with many different stickers (garland, ornaments, letters, snowman scarves and hats, etc.) and are great for little kids. You can hang your newly-made decorations around the house or give as handmade Christmas presents to the family! Or, if you’re feeling a bit more creative, have the kids decorate ornaments for the tree. Buy some plain plastic Christmas ball ornaments, glitter and paint and let the little artist within emerge!
Gift Wrapping: It has to get done anyway, so why not make it a family affair? Kids love to help out – have them help by actually wrapping (older kids) or decorating packages with ribbons, bows, etc. Put on some Christmas music, gather round the fire (or the annual Yule Log on TV) and be merry together.
Look at the Christmas Lights: Take the kids out for a walk or drive and check out the local Christmas lights. It may be a simple activity, but it really gets the whole family into the holiday spirit. End your journey with hot chocolate at your favorite cafe or make some at home. You can’t go looking at holiday lights without hot chocolate!
Open a Present: There are many customs out there when it comes to the holidays. One that was always a favorite in my family was the much-anticipated Christmas Eve present! We were only allowed to open one and it was always new pajamas (that we would put on immediately), but it was always something we looked forward to and made the evening even more special.
Read Twas the Night Before Christmas: Start an old-school tradition in your house and read this classic book before bedtime on Christmas Eve. You can also read it right from your computer here or watch a YouTube version set to the soundtrack of Perry Como reading the tale. Either way you do it, you will be sure to enjoy starting a new tradition with your little ones.
Leave Milk and Cookies for Santa: It’s the last thing a lot of us did before going to bed as kids on Christmas Eve. Have your kids write out their letters to Santa and leave them with some treats for the big jolly guy. Pull together some of the other things you’ve done during the day and maybe your child will be excited to leave him a craft, ornament or some of the cookies you just baked together. Whatever it is, your kids will be eager to help prepare for the arrival of Santa Claus!